Saturday, March 10, 2012

Read-Along: Part One of The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Today's post is going to be something a little different.  I'm participating in a read-along of Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora, hosted by Dark Cargo, @ohthatashley at SF Signal, My Awful Reviews, and the Little Red Reviewer.  I'm going to be reading 1/5 of the novel each week, and answering various discussion questions each Saturday.  What this means is...

Read-Along posts discuss a specific portion of The Lies of Locke Lamora and are therefore full of spoilers!  I will do a usual review post once the book is complete.

This week, I've read from the Prologue up through the Interlude titled "Locke Stays for Dinner" (an event which is much more significant than it sounds!).  I'm not sure what format I'll stick to for these discussions in the future, but for now I'll just list the discussion questions and my answers.

1.   If this is your first time reading The Lies of Locke Lamora, what do you think of it so far?  If this is a re-read for you, how does the book stand up to rereading?

This is my first time reading The Lies of Locke Lamora.  I've heard many great things about this series, and I've been meaning to read it for a while.  I'm glad to finally get started!  I like it very much so far.  I was afraid at first that Locke Lamora was going to be one of those perfectly skilled characters, who never encounter failure.  However, right from the beginning, Locke is forced to face the consequences of his carelessness and inexperience.  More than anything, I think that Locke is gifted with an abnormal amount of audaciousness, so he is willing to attempt wild schemes that would seem much too risky for an ordinary fellow.

2. At last count, I found three time lines:  Locke as as a 20-something adult, Locke meeting Father Chains for the first time, and Locke as a younger child in Shades Hill. How are you doing with the Flashback within a flashback style of introducing characters and the world? 

Everything has seemed pretty clear so far, so I don't mind the skipping back and forth in time.  I was surprised that I was equally engaged in the story of Locke's childhood and his adulthood. Usually, when a novel splits the narrative like this, I find myself drawn strongly to one story over the others.  In The Lies of Locke Lamora both Locke’s childhood and his adulthood hold their own secrets, and I am eager to see what happens next in both cases.

3. Speaking of the world, what do you think of Camorr and Lynch's world building? 

So far, I love it.  I don't yet know much of the world outside of Camorr, but I am really enjoying the level of detail lavished on Camorr.  There's the orphan-thief city tunneled under a graveyard, the glowing glass, the canals, the elaborate illegal system that supports the society, and so much more.  I also love the Gentleman Bastards and their lair.  I think world building is incredibly important in a story about a con-artist, and so far everything is thorough, interesting, and internally consistent.

4. Father Chains and the death offering. . .  quite the code of honor for thieves, isn't it? What kind of person do you think Chains is going to mold Locke into?  

A Gentleman Bastard, of course!  In the case of Locke's large death offerings, I think it was less about honor and more about cutting any murderous tendencies in the bud (even though Locke didn't mean to kill anyone).  I think he wanted to beat into Locke's head that taking lives has, and should have, consequences, even if you get away with it. 

5. It's been a while since I read this, and I'd forgotten how much of the beginning of the book is pure set up, for the characters, the plot, and the world. Generally speaking, do you prefer  set up and world building done this way, or do you prefer to be thrown into the deep end with what's happening?

I’ve read a lot of really good books that go with “throwing the reader in the deep end”, but I actually prefer this approach.  There’s enough character and plot that I’m definitely hooked, but I don’t have to spend my time memorizing references I don’t understand in hope that they’ll make sense later.

6. If you've already started attempting to pick the pockets of your family members (or even thought about it!) raise your hand.

I can't raise to that one.  I’m one of those people who suffer from vicarious humiliation, so I’m really dreading the moment when the Salvara couple finds out they’ve been tricked.  Characters like Locke stress me out, too, because you never know when they’re going to be found out in a lie. So for me, at least, the novel is giving me a firm feeling of “I could never do anything like that! Not ever!!”


  1. Ha ha, prepare to be really stressed then by Locke and his gang, they really do have you on hooks. Your answer to number 3 is great - I think the world building is brilliant. I love the graveyard tunnels (it's like a huge hobbit hill)
    Lynn :D

  2. Haha, I'm sure I will be, since I think Locke's games are kind of the focus of the novel. I'm really looking forward to seeing how everything works out, though!

  3. Exactly what Lynn said, be prepared to be on the edge of your seat for his whole book! :D So happy you're enjoying the beginning of the book, because really, it just gets better and better.

    A highly talented perfect person Locke is not. he fucks up like the best of them, and has to learn the hard way just like everyone. He's just so damn human.

  4. That's my favorite kind of protagonist :).

  5. I hear you about the vicarious humiliation. This book is awesome for building the tension on that score.

  6. Locke is just such a cocky little so and so, I'm sure in real life I wouldn't like him much, but as the hero of one of the best caper novels I've ever read he's very likeable.

  7. @nrlymtrl I am seeing that more and more, now that I'm reading part two. Locke certainly keeps the tension up!

    @Elfy Yeah, I think he would make an infuriating friend in real life, but he's a fascinating con-artist-hero!

  8. You're right that the flawed characters are so much more interesting than the perfect ones! I'm also a bit stressed out sometimes by the way Locke does this with so much confidence, but I admit that seing him screwing up would be one of the best part!

  9. Yeah, I think the story would lose a lot of its tension if Locke was presented as infallible. Even this early in the story, there are so many chances for everything to go horribly wrong, and it's often through things that are beyond Locke's control! I mean, their whole well-planned scheme might have been ruined if Bug hadn't decided to jump off a building...

  10. I hadn't seen Chains's insistence on Locke making a large death-offering in that light... I think you're right, it's very much about teaching Locke caution and forward planning, all the things Chains is so adamant he lacks.

    And yes, the humanity of all of the characters is fantastic, isn't it - it's so much easier to like characters when they're well aware they're thieving scum, somehow!

  11. Oh, I definitely love a good imperfect hero, or anti-hero, as long as the character is presented honestly. I think Locke & Co. would seem irritating if Lynch somehow morally justified their actions-- I much prefer them as unabashed thieving scum!